Father and I had a thought provoking conversation last night about the Federal Trade Commissions guidelines. Looking at it from a business point of view, we came to some interesting conclusions.
Advanced Reader Copies. What monetary value does an ARC have. I can't sell it nor can I take it to my local used bookstore for credit for them to sale. I can't donate it and write it off on my taxes. What the guidelines are saying is I can't keep the book. Either give it way or discard it, throw it away once done with it. What does that tell you? If I give it away, the shipping cost creates a monetary loss for me. But, in giving it away, I am creating the same situation as the publisher giving it to me. I am giving a gift and what is the value of the gift. Business wise, I'm allowed to give up to a certain amount and write it off. But I can't write off this as a gift because, it is for personal use. No value. If I throw it away, it tells me that the book is worth nothing.
Technically an Advanced Reader copy hasn't any monetary value.
Review copies: Again from the standpoint of a business person, a review copy has less value than a copy that is purchased in the store. Why? Prior to the book going into a store, it is a widget - paper and ink. As a manufacturer, when we build a product, it is worth the cost of the parts. Insurance wise, if we have a fire or theft, we only receive the value of the parts. A product which may cost the consumer $30, may cost the manufacturer $2.00 to build. Once that product is sold, then it has more value. The consumer now owns a $30 widget and expects a return of that $30 if something happens to the product.
As a widget, a review book has little monetary value.
Now to make things ever more complicated and get into the technical merits of the whole thing. If the books have value and I am receiving compensation in the form of the book and I provide a positive review, then wouldn't the party sending me the book have to send a 1099 at the end of the year for tax purposes? Let's not go there.
And, let's not forget that a private party and/or business is allowed to gift up to $10,000 per year before estate or gift taxes kick in. If you want to get into semantics, then technically the books I receive are gifts. The reviews I provide are done on a volunteer basis. Do you want me to open up another can of worms regarding volunteers and how this country has survived because of said volunteers. Then you have the First amendment which protects freedom of speech. I have the right to say anything I want on my blog - within reason of course.
The Value of a Book.... Though an ARC or Review book may have little or no monetary value, to me it does have intellectual value and is intangible. The trust endowed by the publishers, publicists and authors who send me their books is invaluable. The intrinsic value of the relationship and the books can not be calculated. Words on a page, that singly are just words. But together, paint pictures that take you to other worlds, into the future or the past and open up a vast universe not available to you anywhere else.
In my opinion the revision of the Guidelines by the FTC will have little impact on me. As in all things, it just makes us more aware of the responsibilities we have as bloggers and readers.
What do you value in a book?